Tag Archives: vegetables

The curse of my allotment

13 Jan

Mid Jan and it’s time to sit down to review how my allotment has performed over the last twelve months and start planning for the next season.

And yet again I’m having to admit to myself that I’m disappointed – my allotment rarely lives up to my high expectations. Expectations built on glossy magazine articles, weekly newspaper columns and even some lovely posts here on the blogosphere !

I’ve just never found the whole vegetable growing thing easy. Flowers I can do but veg no. Every year I say to myself that this will be the year when I spend much more time on my allotment, I will nurture the soil, I will succession sow, I will water more frequently etc etc. but it just never happens – there’s simply too much going on elsewhere.

Last years performance was mixed as usual – great raspberries, pounds of blackberries, no gooseberries, good lettuce, mediocre onions, amazing cherry tomatoes ( that all succumbed to blight within a week !!!) , so-so beans, plentiful artichokes, miserable courgettes……. Do I need to go on ?

So here I am saying this year will be better. I will do all the aforementioned things – more time, more manure, more water etc etc and if all the stars are aligned and the moon is in the right phase and we have a warm wet summer I just may pull it off this year !

So the next task is ordering seeds – this is an element of the equation that I think I have got pretty sorted – see my post this time last year to see my decision making process.

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I think I’ll be ordering pretty much the same as last year

  • Spring onion ‘Holland Blood Red’ – red spring onions
  • Broad Bean ‘Superaguadulce’ – good for an early sowing, in fact must sow mine soon!
  • French Bean ‘Blue Lake Climbing’ – very prolific
  • French bean ‘Blauhilde’ – purple bean
  • Dwarf Bean – Rocquencourt’ – brigh yellow pods
  • Dwarf Bean ‘Purple Tepee’ – purple bean
  • Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ !
  • Beetroot ‘Bolthardy’ – the default variety
  • Beetroot ‘Chioggia’ – beautiful stripey pink and white variety
  • Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ – purple and orange roots
  • Courgette ‘Romanesco’ – ridged fruit
  • Lettuce ‘ Merveille de Quatre Saisons’ – crumpled red and green leaves
  • Lettuce ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ – good crunchy green
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    I’ll be turning my propogator on shortly and getting the first of my succession sowing under way.

    I’ve also picked up some interesting flower seeds over the year and will be giving them a go, either for cutting or in the garden at home.

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    Tune back in in twelve months time to see if I’ve finally cracked this vegetable growing business !

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    Looking back and forward…..

    3 Jan

    It’s that time of year again when it’s deemed appropriate to review the last 12 months and express disappointment in one’s performance and blame unexpected family commitments, unplanned overseas travel, or un scheduled box set binges. And then to look towards the approaching new year and to promise more commitment to the task in hand, combined with less procrastination.

    Well, in a year long effort not to beat my self up too much about the few things I don’t actually achieve, and to take a little more credit for so much of what I have actually achieved….

    I can say that I really enjoyed visiting this….

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    And this…

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    I learnt a few new things like this….

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    And this …..

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    I shall grow more of these….

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    And these….

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    I want to photograph more things like this….

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    And this….

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    I want to spend more time here….

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    And here….

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    I want to fill my house with more of these…..

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    And these….

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    I want to eat in more places like this….

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    And this….

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    I should probably eat more of these….

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    And less of these….

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    I must spend more time wearing these….

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    But still make time to do more of this….

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    And most importantly to make more time to appreciate things like this….

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    And this….

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    I’ll let you know how I get on !

    Photos ( all mine)

    1. Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness Kent
    2. Sissinghurst Kent
    3. Porcelain hearts
    4. Appliquéd hare from workshop with Mandy Pattullo
    5. American Dawn dahlia
    6.asstd chillies
    7. & 8. Beach combing still life
    9. Loch Duich Rosshire Scotland
    10. Isle of Lewis Outer Hebrides
    11. Sweet peas
    12. Flowers at Worton Organic
    13. Worton Organic Oxfordshire
    14.beach restaurant Istanbul
    15. Amazing tomatoes from Worton Organic
    16. Spiced blackberry bundt cake
    17. My work boots
    18. Liberty patchwork cushion
    19. My favourite view Loch Duich Scotland
    20. My favourite chair in my garden Warwickshire

    The perfect Job for a another wet day….

    16 Jan

    As we seem to be drowning under another deluge of rain, its the perfect excuse to sit inside in the dry and start choosing your seeds for the year.

    When it comes to vegetables I do grow most of them from seed.This is the most cost effective way and it helps that I do have an electric propagator and a greenhouse. But it is also the only way to get the exact varieties that you want.

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    When deciding what to order I make sure I sort thru which seeds I have left over from last year, then vow to throw them out and order a fresh batch! I don’t know how long seeds can hang around for – it will depend on the variety and how well they’re stored but its safe to say that you will greatly improve your success rate by using fresh seed.but inevitably I end up with several packets of some. Note to self: write date on packets then I’d know how old they were !!

    I think any vegetable you decide to grow should meet at least one of the following criteria –

    1.Taste – should taste substantially better than the shop bought variety e g tomatoes

    2.Unusual  – a different colour/size to what is available in the shops e g yellow courgettes

    3.Cheap – substantially cheaper to grow than buy e g fancy lettuce + soft fruit

    4. Family will eat it in quantity – there’s no point growing courgettes if the kids wont eat them !

    So based on those criteria these are the vegetable I will be growing this season

    • Spring onion ‘Holland Blood Red’ – red spring onions
    • Broad Bean ‘Superaguadulce’ – good for an early sowing, in fact must sow mine soon!
    • French Bean ‘Blue Lake Climbing’ – very prolific
    • French bean ‘Blauhilde’ – purple bean
    • Dwarf Bean – Rocquencourt’ – brigh yellow pods
    • Dwarf Bean ‘Purple Tepee’ – purple bean
    • Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ – apparently you can eat the flowers – must try !
    • Beetroot ‘Bolthardy’ – the default variety
    • Beetroot ‘Chioggia’ – beautiful stripey pink and white variety
    • Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ – purple and orange roots
    • Courgette ‘Romanesco’ – ridged fruit
    • Lettuce ‘ Merveille de Quatre Saisons’ – crumpled red and green leaves
    • Lettuce ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ – good crunchy green

    I tend to buy my seeds in a variety of different places  – Marshals ; Sarah Raven ; Simpsons Seeds ; Seeds of Italy and of course the supermarkets and garden centres.

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